Title: Participation of Women in Nation Building

Author: Margaret Bassey Ekanem

Publishers: Excel Publishers

Place of Publication: Calabar

Year of Publication: 2014

ISBN: 978-051-919-X

Pagination: XVI + 203 = 219 Pages

Price: Not Stated

Reviewer: Eyoh Etim

Theme Quote

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it can narrow it. How can it be a larger career to tell other people about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but it is gigantic, not because it is minute.

  • G. K. Chesterton

Introduction: Margaret Bassey Ekanem’s Participation of Women in Nation Building is a detailed profiling of women’s contribution to the progress of our world. It is one epic source book rich in information on the giant strides made by some of the world’s most outstanding women. Through this book, the author insists that women’s role in ensuring a peaceful and successful human society cannot be ignored because hardly is there a field of human endeavour in which women have not left their marks. In this, the book acts as a veritable source of inspiration for many women still facing challenges and who need to break forth in a male-dominated world. There is no doubt that women and young ladies will find in this book’s contents a well of encouragement and support as well as the motivating energy to push on in the drive to actualise their dreams even in a predominantly patriarchal world.

Contents and Organisation of Contents: The 219-page book is organised in twelve (12) chapters. Chapter 1 focuses on the struggle for women’s rights which began in Europe in the 18th century, during a period of intense intellectual activity known as the Age of Enlightenment, as well as the Aba Women’s riot (later properly renamed Ikot Abasi Women’s riot) in 1929 in which women protested against taxation laws imposed on them by the colonial masters. This chapter is concluded with the fact that the fight for women’s rights has today resulted in the rights for women to vote and be voted for, alongside men, except in a few Muslim countries.

Chapter 2 focuses on Nigerian women before and after independence. Before independence, Nigeria’s cultural beliefs and practices stereotyped and imposed limited roles on women with the notion that women were naturally designed to perform only those traditional roles. The author lists those roles as childbearing, functioning only in the kitchen, bedrooms, backyards, farmlands, as well as being mothers and housewives. But after independence, women got the opportunity to exercise their rights. They are now seen in sports, politics and administration, among other spaces.

Chapter 3 is entitled ‘Marriage, Extended Family, Values and Widowhood’ and deals with the backlash women face in society as a result of their gender. Women are usually seen as the cause of broken homes and failed marriages. Women face many trials and temptations in their matrimonial homes by their in-laws/extended family; and widows suffer many ills and go through a lot of abuse and pain after their husband’s demise. The chapter also emphasises the importance of family values which affect the future of the children. It lists some of the values held within society to include cultural values, social values and religious values.

In Chapter 4, the importance of home, children and parenting and how they affect women is examined. Women are homemakers and they interact with the ‘home environment’ more than the men. A home, where husband and wife stay together in love, trust, tolerance and understanding and train their children, makes the children good citizens and leaders of the nation. The chapter also asserts that in Africa, children are perceived as evidence of a fulfilled home or marriage and that in any marriage without a child, it is the wife that takes the greater percentage of the blame, whether the fault is from her or not. The chapter equally lists some of the qualities of a stable home to consist of wise leadership, showing affection, valuable rituals, accepting and loving members who are different, recording and sharing family history, showing hospitability, and building a divine foundation.

Chapter 5 discusses broken marriages and relationships as being caused by women and that it is the children that are affected psychologically when marriages fail. The chapter also treats violence against women, and states that most women have been naturally conditioned to feel reluctant and insecure to report any form of violence against them by their husbands for fear of being faulted by their in-laws and also for the sake of their children.

Chapter 6 asserts that education is an indispensable factor in nation building, and since women are the hope and future of any nation, quality education can mostly be administered by female teachers, arguably of course. The chapter explains that currently, women engage and take up male professions and career which were prohibited for them in the past decades. The author lists such professions to include engineering, management sciences, arts, agriculture, law, social sciences, sciences and education.

Chapter 7 stresses that women are the soul of any nation. Therefore, women should be allowed to participate in the government of their nation and be empowered socially, politically, economically and educationally because the development of a nation is measured by the level of development of women. The chapter equally discusses some of the issues that affect female aspirants, like low level of support, education and confidence, violence and poor zoning system. Some past and present women activists, politicians, nationalist leaders in Nigerian are mentioned and acknowledged. They are Queen Amina of Zaria, Flora Lugard, Chief (Mrs) Margaret Ekpo, Chief (Mrs) Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Her Royal Majesty Atai Akwa Obonganwan Princess Atim Rose Atakpo (OON. J.P) and Her Excellency (Mrs) Victoria Gowon, among others.

Chapter 8 focuses on women in foreign countries, and the Saudi Arabian women’s status that has started changing because the government has recognised that without women’s resources and abilities which have been marginalised for too long, no serious economic growth can take place. The chapter lists women in foreign countries who have fought for women’s rights to include Elizabeth Stanton, Madam C. J. Walker, Rosa Park, Dr Mama Montessori, Mrs Roosevelt and a host of others.

In Chapter 9, awareness is created that women have been participating in environmental and health management. They engage in farming and cultivation, forest conservation, water conservation and waste management.

Chapter 10 covers women, finance and poverty and emphasises that women bear a disproportionate burden of world’s poverty and that statistics indicate that women are more likely than men to be poor and are at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in healthcare, education, development and control of assets. It is poverty that leads women to engage in criminal acts. Therefore, women should be supported in their goal towards participating in the economy, policy-making, politics, administration and education. Practical skills should also be provided for them which they will need for their sustenance.

Chapter 11 x-rays women’s participation in religious activities and the psycho-social nature of women in which women are described as not being weaker vessels but are hardworking, virtuous and have the capability to nurture, teach themselves and their family, as well as contribute positively to the progress and development of society. The author mentions women missionaries and evangelists who came to Nigeria to preach and teach the gospel. They are Mary Slessor, Mother Theresa and Mary Charles Walker. Archbishop (Mrs) Margaret Benson Idahosa, Pastor (Mrs) Abiombola Rosemary Odukoya, Bishop (Mrs) Josephine Eggah, Mrs Joyce Mayer and Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman are mentioned as being among the world’s renowned and powerful evangelists.

Chapter 12 lists the past and present world female presidents, prime ministers and queens.

Evaluation: Margaret Ekanem’s Participation of Women in Nation Building is a book that provides information on the role women have played and are still playing in nation building, especially in areas like politics, governance, administration, religion, health, environment, education, economy and policy-making. In all, the book covers a wide range of contents with which the author uses to achieve her aim of illuminating women’s participation in nation building. It is a well-published book with legible print. However, what may be taken as weaknesses of this book, to the best of my knowledge, are the spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. There are several subject-verb agreement issues, and some words and sentences do not collocate in some paragraphs. It is hoped that subsequent editions will take care of these weaknesses so as to bring out the essence of the book. Barring these editing-related issues, the book has been well published and deserves to be read by all.

Conclusion: Ekanem’s Participation of Women in Nation Building is a well-finished, educative, informative and inspiring book. It is a feminist book that makes an invaluable and crucial contribution to the issue of the rights, roles and participation of women in the social, economic and political development of Nigeria and the world at large, and also the need for women to be given equal chances and opportunities with men. It is a must read for both men and women.

Recommendation: I recommend this book to the reading public; both men and women should read it for their enlightenment. Students, especially the female child, should be encouraged to read this book as it has the potentiality to propel them in the right direction. I thank you all.  

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!